Child Exploitation

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?

“Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.”

Child sexual exploitation: definition and guide for practitioners , DfE, February 2017

What is Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)?

"Child Criminal Exploitation occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into any criminal activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or (c) through violence or the threat of violence. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child Criminal Exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology"

HM Government Serious Violence Strategy , April 2018

Sexual exploitation can happen to boys and girls and can be linked to criminal exploitation.

It is important to recognise that ALL children may be at risk of child sexual exploitation. This includes children in strong and loving family units. There are however some children who have greater vulnerability and these include:

Children who might be vulnerable to exploitation:

  • Children who are looked after, especially those living in residential care
  • Children who have a history of physical, sexual, emotional abuse and/or neglect
  • Children who have a disability, mental health problem or sensory impairment
  • Children who are young carers
  • Children who use drugs and alcohol
  • Children who go missing from home or care
  • Children involved in crime
  • Children who live in households where there is domestic abuse

What to look out for: Signs and Symptoms

There are a number of indicators which can alert you to the possibility that your child is being abused through or at risk of exploitation:

  • Going missing for periods of time or regularly coming home late
  • Coming home with expensive clothes or clothes that are inappropriate, mobile phones (or multiple mobile phones) or other gifts and possessions
  • Considerable change in performance at school or missing school
  • Mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
  • Having older boyfriends/girlfriends
  • Suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Inappropriate sexualised behaviour

In additional, where a child is at risk of criminal exploitation/county lines , you might see the following:

  • Increased social media and phone/text use, almost always secretly.
  • Older males in particular seen to be hanging around and driving.
  • Having injuries that are unexplained and unwilling to be looked at.
  • Increase in aggression, violence and fighting.
  • Carrying weapons – knives, baseball bats, hammers, acid.
  • Travel receipts that are unexplained.
  • Significant missing from education episodes and disengaging from previous positive peer groups.
  • Significant changes in behaviour that affect emotional wellbeing.

Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment Framework (SERAF)

A SERAF should be completed as soon as concerns regarding CSE (on any level) are identified. It will guide you as to the level of CSE Risk, and the level and type of intervention which should follow.

The IOWSCP uses the Barnardo's SERAF , but in recognition of the need for some local guidance in the use of the form, the IOWSCP agreed a flow chart and guidance notes for practitioners to assist them in completion of the SERAF.

METRAC (Missing, Exploited & Trafficked Risk Assessment Conference)

METRAC is a multi-agency operational group that is chaired by Hampshire Constabulary. It meets monthly to look at completed SERAFs and agree what action can be taken to protect the welfare of these highly vulnerable children. The aim is to manage and increase the safety of high risk victims of CSE or CCE and reduce risks and prevent further harm so that children are safeguarded.

Police Actions when CSE is identified

The IOWSCP produced a flowchart showing the actions the Police take when a child has been identified as either unaccompanied from abroad, missing or there is evidence of exploitation.

Children’s Social Care Actions when children are missing from home or care

Children’s Social Care have developed clear procedures for dealing with children missing from home or care to ensure that there is an appropriate response to minimise the risks of children being exploited whilst missing.

A new strategic child exploitation group has been established across the 4SCP area. They provide leadership and direction, ensuring a coordinated partnership response to child exploitation. This group will ensure that the 4SCPs meet legislative requirements, government guidance, and implement recognised best practice to protect children from all forms of exploitation including CSE, CCE and modern slavery.

There are a number of child exploitation related policies including a 4SCP Missing, Exploited and Trafficked Guide which can be found on the 4SCP Policies & Procedures database.

The SCP offer a number of online and face-to-face training opportunities around exploitation of children.

Practitioners Resources

Worried About A Child?

If you are worried about a child or young person, please contact:

Children’s Reception Team
(IOW Social Care)

To make a safeguarding referral use the inter agency referral form (this is the preferred method for making a referral) Professionals ONLY phone number: 0300 300 0901

Police

If there is immediate danger call 999